For Volunteers, Giving Isn't Thankless

Gracia Valliant reads to a boy

Yes, I'll admit it, I'm one of those annoying do-gooders who signs up for everything. I'm patting myself on the back just by writing this! But that's just one of the many different reasons people volunteer. Businesses often engage in -- buzzword alert -- "Corporate Social Responsibility" to enhance their image for customers and stockholders. Jobseekers volunteer to add some "current activity" to their LinkedIn profiles. Guys want to meet girls; others hope to find favor with a higher power; and networking, always networking: All common motives for people to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand.

But you know what? It doesn't matter in the slightest why you decide to volunteer. There isn't a "correct" reason. All that counts is the outcome: A worthy organization is getting the help they desperately need. Non-profits, charities, and cultural groups are often on shoestring budgets with skeleton staffs. For them, a little volunteer labor can make a huge difference.